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Heart disease treatment

Treatment for heart disease encompasses medication, surgery and other procedures

Medications (by condition) 

How heart disease medications work

You will note that the medications listed below are categorized by condition. If you have high cholesterol, for example, you’ll look under that topic for the medications that are regularly prescribed for that condition. Simply click on that drug and it will link you to the information. While we have listed many of the current generic medications that are prescribed for heart disease in Canada, you may find that your medication may not be covered in this section. Please speak to your physician. This information is to help you better understand how medications work and is not meant to replace your health-care practitioner's advice. We also include information on how to take and manage your medications below.



Heart failure

Heart disease

High blood pressure

Irregular heart rhythms

How to take your medication
Some heart medications treat heart disease and some help prevent it. They all work in different ways. Some may help lower your blood pressure, reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood or help your body get rid of excess fluids that make it difficult for your heart to pump blood. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out exactly how and when to take your medication. Here are some general tips to help you take your medication properly:

Take as prescribed
Always take your medications as prescribed. Never suddenly stop taking or change them without first talking to your doctor
or pharmacist.

Know what you’re taking
Be sure you know the names and dosages of the medications you are taking and a little bit about how they work. Make a list of your medications to keep with you in your purse or wallet. Before having surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist what medications you are taking. An antibiotic may need to be prescribed prior to your surgical or dental procedure.

Stick to a routine
If you take your medications
at the same times each day such as at lunch and dinner, it’s easier to remember when and if you took your pills. It may also help to use a pillbox (like a Dosett) marked with days of the week or have your pharmacist package your medications in blister packs.

Avoid mixing prescription medications with over-the counter drugs
If you are taking medications, do not take any over-the-counter drugs or herbal therapies without first checking with your doctor or pharmacist. Some drugs, such as antacids for stomach upset, salt substitutes, antihistamines for allergies and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief or headaches (such as ibuprofen), can worsen certain heart conditions. Avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions by telling your doctor or pharmacist about any other medication including prescription, non-prescription or natural health products such as vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines, probiotics and other products such as amino acids and essential fatty acids.

Talk to your pharmacist
If you have any questions about
your medications, forget to take a dose, experience potential drug interactions, or need refills talk to your pharmacist. Also remember that your doctor is only a phone call away.

Report side effects
If a medication is causing unpleasant side effects, report them to your doctor or pharmacist. Sometimes your doctor can help you eliminate side effects simply by changing the dose, suggesting that you take the medication at a different time or using a different drug.

Lifestyle changes
Eating a healthy diet that is lower in
salt and fat, especially saturated and trans fats, being smoke free, limiting alcohol use, being physically active and reducing stress are also important to lowering the risk of stroke and heart disease. Talk to your health-care practitioner about how you can achieve these lifestyle changes.

How to pay for your medication
When you are in the hospital, your provincial health plan pays for all of your medications. When you return home, however, you will have to pay for them either individually or through a provincial or private drug plan. If you need financial help to pay for your medications, you may discuss your situation with your workplace human resources department, a union representative, a social worker, a provincial or private health insurance program representative or a pharmacist. Visit your ministry of health to learn more about the drug benefit programs in your province or territory. Visit Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association to learn more about private supplementary health insurance, which may cover some of your prescription drugs or medical expenses.

For more information
Health Canada provides health and medical information to help Canadians maintain and improve their health. Learn more about Safe Use of MedicinesSafety and Effectiveness of Generic Drugs and Buying Drugs over the Internet.

Drug Product Database provides information about drugs approved for use in Canada.

MedEffect Canada provides safety alerts, public health advisories, warnings and recalls.

Your ministry of health also provides useful health resources in your province or territory. For example, Ontario has a MedsCheck program providing free pharmacist consultations on safety use of drugs. British Columbia has a Senior Healthcare webpage providing information about important health programs.  

Surgeries and other procedures

Below is a list of surgeries and other procedures that are currently performed in Canada.  

Last modified: April 2013
Last reviewed: July 2011